Urine Composting with Sugar

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Composting Research: Urine Composting with Sugar
Author: Pcinca (Pcinca)
Wednesday, May 05, 2010 - 10:12 am
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Knothead, there is nothing wrong with separating the urine to save space in the bucket and later adding it to the pile where it will add nutrient and moister. I have separated urine from the bucket with good results, but I always put some in the bucket so the contents slid out easier and then the bucket only needs a quick spray out with a trigger hose nozzle right over the pile to clean it. I have urine containers in the backyard so I don't have to run back to the house. When I lived out in the sticks where nobody was around, I just peed directly into the pile along with the #2's (direct deposit).

Author: Knothead (Knothead)
Tuesday, May 04, 2010 - 7:08 am
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Thanks Eco,
I also don't have any noticeable odor problem with my system. Toilet or compost pile. The toilet doesn't smell and the compost pile is hot and doesn't smell either. The urinal/bottle does start to smell after a day or so but only when I remove the lid to use it. And it's usually about the time it needs to be emptied anyway.
I really don't have any reason to separate the urine except that it allows me to go for weeks instead of days before emptying the bucket. Plus I like the convenience of having a urinal.
I still fail to see how it's a problem as long as everything is reunited again in the compost pile.
Perhaps I'm missing something.

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Monday, May 03, 2010 - 5:27 pm
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This is just a quick, immediate response, Steve - I have never noticed any objectionable smell from my humanure system. There is very little, if any, leachate and the worms convert the entire mass of sawdust, faeces and urine into perfect compost after 8-9 months.
A few years ago, I first came into the Comp. Loo Camp by using a proprietary system. The manufacturers recommended separating the urine, because of this perceived problem of smell. They did not recommend, in fact warned very much against using sawdust.
For them, and many others like them, urine was a Probem!
Using the Humanure method makes the urine into an asset, easily dealt with. Provided you have sufficient "soak-up-ability" and plenty of good sawdust or similar at hand.

Author: Knothead (Knothead)
Wednesday, March 03, 2010 - 6:07 pm
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I do separate the liquids from the solids in my sit-down toilet. I also have a urinal bottle. I pour the contents of the urine jugs on the compost pile when the odor starts to be noticeable when I remove the lid for use. That's usually about every couple of days. I only have to empty the solids bucket every three weeks or so.

Are there any problems with this approach?

Author: Rowan (Rowan)
Monday, June 29, 2009 - 5:40 am
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I did some reading on how urine behaves in a container after separation. The literature was in french, I hope I'll be using the correct words in english: it appears that the nitrogen present in the urine transforms to smelly ammonia (NH3) in very short time. It then further transforms through oxydation to ammonium salts (NH4+) In the soil bacteria then come into play and make nitrits (NO2-)and nitrates (NO3-) of it, and finally nitric acid (HNO3). Nitrates do fertilise the land as any chemical fertilizer does, but the nitrits percolate through the soil downward, polluting freatic waters. Nitric acid acidifies the soil, killing off natural processes in it, and it also easily evaporates and is transported by air, further polluting the environment. On top of all that, urine needs to be diluted 1:8 with water, partly wasting the effort of saving water, and it is true that urine makes the compost pile warm up. So I'd say that urine separation is a bad idea. (I have tried to represent the above information as well as I could, but I'm no chemist so there may be a few mistakes in it.) For those who understand french, here's a good link: https://www.eautarcie.com/Eautarcie/5.Toilettes_seches/A.Utiliser_une_toilette_seche.htm.
Marc

Author: Mahning (Mahning)
Saturday, June 27, 2009 - 7:06 pm
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Fermenting urine, or diluting and using it right away. On one hand, I read urine needs to be used immediately to prevent amonia formation. On the other hand, I read of fermenting it a few weeks before using it (diluted also if I remember well.

Author: Tclynx (Tclynx)
Monday, May 11, 2009 - 9:54 am
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I've come to the conclusion that a certain amount of urine is needed for the good hot composting process. Turds and sawdust alone don't make for hot compost.

I try to pee once or twice a day into a bottle for use as fertilizer and the rest goes in the bucket with the poo and sawdust for the compost pile

Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Tuesday, March 24, 2009 - 6:25 pm
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This came via email:

Herb has the right idea, of diluting the urine and using it as fertilizer. Science News had an article about 18 months ago on research done in Finland to see what could be used in place of petro-chem fertilizers. They applied 'saved' urine to cabbage and I think cucumbers. They were very enthusiastic about the performance of urine as a fertilizer. The cabbage -- in controlled trials -- produced roughly 30% better results. The urine-phobes were sent packing when the produce was shown to have substantially lower levels of contaminants than the controls at harvest time.

Our question is whether doing this direct use of urine year-round -- even in container gardening and in hydroponics in winter -- would compromise the quality of the remainder of the composting operation's product. We've been doing this separation strategy for about 9 months and the urine results are confirmed in our tomatos and peppers but the compost is not ready to even put a shovel through... especially since it froze this winter (thermometer was stuck in the bottom 30s for months, now it's upper 60s) and not much seems to be happening so we're wondering what will we find once the pile completely thaws. Our bin was constructed of remesh so it's quite open air, not as thoroughly sheltered as Joe's in the video or the book. Even the video looks to be using a lot of sawdust per bucket and lots of straw compared to our own use of straw for insulating the process. We are using junk mail, newspaper, shredded office-paper and kitchen offal in the buckets so we have lots of variety to be examining when the 2 years are up. In the meantime, it's urine in the garden unless someone says that there's some level of urine needed in the compost... eh? What clues can anyone add to our puzzling???

Author: Bradford Kaellner (Bradkaellner)
Thursday, August 21, 2008 - 11:36 pm
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Mmmmmmmmm... sweet pees. I've decided to abandon the sugar/urine experiment due to a lack of confidence in the process. Now I just pee in a 5 gallon bucket, add sawdust and stir with a stick.

Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Monday, August 18, 2008 - 7:03 pm
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You could probably grow sweet pees with it.

Author: Herb Stamser (Herb)
Sunday, August 17, 2008 - 11:36 am
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This year I experimented with diluting fresh urine with water and then applying it directly to the garden. I can't prove cause and effect, but my corn is the largest I have ever grown. Adding sugar would seem to be an added expense and is it really necessary?

Author: Bradford Kaellner (Bradkaellner)
Friday, August 15, 2008 - 2:50 pm
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I believe she is only saying that by mixing sugar with urine, the bacteria in the mixture are able to convert the nitrogen in the urine into a plant usable form... minimizing the escape of nitrogen into the atmosphere.

Author: John Smith (John)
Thursday, August 14, 2008 - 11:03 am
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Is Ms. Steinfeld suggesting that mixing urine and sugar will 'compost' in the sense of pathogen destruction via: predation, competition, and high temperature from the growth of meso and/or thermophilic bacteria?

If not, what does she mean by 'compost'?

Author: Bradford Kaellner (Bradkaellner)
Sunday, August 10, 2008 - 5:27 pm
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I live in Oakland and garden on my roof, so there isn't a lot of space to have a compost pile. It also seems like using sugar would enable the urine to 'compost' much more quickly, giving me a relatively steady supply of nitrogen-rich fertilizer. We compost our food scraps in a worm bin, but I don't think the worms would appreciate urine very much. Any thoughts?

Author: Joe Jenkins (Joe)
Friday, August 08, 2008 - 1:18 pm
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Sounds a bit far-fetched. Why not just urinate into a container filled with sawdust, then add it to your compost pile?

Author: Bradford Kaellner (Bradkaellner)
Thursday, August 07, 2008 - 4:12 pm
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In the book 'Liquid Gold' by Carol Steinfeld, she includes a section called 'Carbon matching for the hardcore urine user' which touches on the concept of mixing sugar with urine to obtain the ideal C:N ratio of 30:1. Has anyone heard of or had experience with this? I imagine the solution needs to be aerated using a fish tank pump, or perhaps something more powerful. Can compost be made as a liquid??? That would certainly go against the old 'damp as a wrung out sponge' mentality, eh?

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